The Japan Basketball Association said Wednesday it has hired Zeljko Pavlicevic of Croatia as the new manager for the men’s national team on a four-year deal.

Pavlicevic, a 51-year-old veteran coach of Euroleague clubs, took over from Kenji Yoshida and will begin work for Japan in April at a training camp in the buildup to next year’s Athens Olympics and the 2006 World Championships in Japan.

“I’ll try to form a world-class team,” Pavlicevic said. Pavlicevic faces the first real test this summer when his side takes on Asian rivals in the Olympic qualifiers.

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